Turtle Prints and Watercolors

by Brian Gordy

Last Bask of Autumn


Last Bask of Autumn

This watercolor is one of my favorites for a number of reasons.  It is not the most colorfully dramatic painting - very somber, very grey.  It is also not the most brilliantly reflective, ideally shaped specimen of this particular species.  It is, though, a poignant look at an old turtle hanging on and holding out for the last bits of basking sun for the season, before the months under the river bottom mud.

 Here is my journal entry for this day......

Mid November is probably too late for turtle observation, but I have gotten used to spending this part of the morning watching turtles… and I have a feeling about today. As usual, I thrash my way toward my observation spot as carefully and quietly as I can. The brush has become dry and shriveled and most of the under story leaves have dropped. The wild raspberries, however, seem even more menacing now as they bare their nasty fangs and claw at my face and arms.  For the first time in months on this path, I can actually see where I’m going.   A cold north wind brings the maple leaves circling down from the canopy. It seems as if the whole world is in motion. As I reach the first clear view of the river I see that the recent rains have washed most of the deadfall down the river. All but one partially submerged, fallen tree has moved on. Near the end of the tree, facing into this cold wind sits a very large, very old Northern Map Turtle.

Her shell is heavily pitted and worn to the point where the usually prominent keel has been rounded off. The only distinguishable “map turtle” identifiers left are the serrated back edge of her shell and the rose colored upper mandible. The murky river water has a menacing chop to it that causes the fallen tree to bob in a methodical pulsing rhythm. The old turtle faces into the wind with her snout held high as if examining a far off scent. She seems content enough soaking up the spotty sunlight while riding the dancing log, impartial to the inevitable advance of winter.

So, yes, there is the story here I think I'm witnessing... that always helps a painting resonate.  But as for the painting itself, the visual  tension created by the action of the water, the placement of the log in the composition and the defiant posture of the battered old turtle is what puts this one in my "favorites" stack. 




Written by Brian Gordy — July 23, 2014

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All of the images you’ll find on this site were created in watercolor. All prints are giclees (jee-clays) printed on acid free, heavy weight “fine art” paper using permanent, light- fast inks. Each signed and numbered giclee is published in an edition of 100 images each per listed size. Prints are available unframed, or matted and framed with ebony stained wood frame and natural white mat (see "Framing Examples" below).

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